AUGUSTA – The bond deal struck over the weekend and approved Monday by the Legislature did not include $12 million for energy efficiency present in prior proposals.

The nearly $9 million in federal stimulus money being spent on energy efficiency was a key factor in deciding to scrap the $12 million bond request, said Ryan Low, commissioner of the Department of Administrative and Financial Services, as was a $75 million grant the state hopes to win from the federal government for residential weatherization.

Low said efficiency and weatherization remain a priority.

“It’s not that it’s not a worthy expenditure of a bond package,” he said.

The Legislature had approved a bond package last year that included $12 million for weatherization of small businesses and homes owned by low- and middle-income residents.

Since then, the state has begun offering rebates to home-owners who weatherize their homes sufficiently to see energy savings of 25 to 50 percent. This program is financed by the nearly $9 million in federal stimulus funding.

Michael Stoddard, the new executive director of the Efficiency Maine Trust, criticized the decision to take the $12 million out of the bond question — he said it was at least the third time in a year lawmakers had opted against seeking efficiency funding.

Others included a heating-oil efficiency program proposed last year and an efficiency program for industry that was stripped out of a bond proposal earlier this year, he said.

“Policymakers should be reminded that every dollar we spend on energy efficiency returns $4 to $8 to the gross state product,” he said. The $12 million energy efficiency bond proposal would have supported 600 to 900 jobs, he contends.

The $75 million grant intended to start a revolving loan fund for residential energy upgrades would help, Stoddard said.

“It would be hugely valuable,” he said. “Of course, we don’t have it yet.”

 

MaineToday Media State House reporter Ethan Wilensky-Lanford can be contacted at 620-7016 or at: [email protected]